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ANSI To Assist in Improvement Of Election Procedures

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has been asked by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to review and comment on proposed voluntary standards for computer based voting systems.

According to the FEC, the first national voluntary standards for computer based voting systems were published in 1990. Independent testing laboratories use these standards to test voting system hardware and software under a national program established by the National Association of State Election Directors.

In 1999, the FEC launched an initiative to revise and update the standards, with emphasis on accessibility, Internet voting, feedback to voters, and quality assurance and configuration management.

The FEC announcement that the standards were available for review and comment came a day after a recent decision by the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards to take steps toward correcting the problems of the 2000 presidential election.

Copies of the proposed standards can be requested by calling 202-694-1095. Written comments should be sent to VSS@fec.gov.

ASQ and election legislation

ASQ representatives discussed election reform with members of Congress in Washington, DC, in mid-July, noting disappointment that proposed legislation did not establish a quality system for election planning and administration.

On the positive side, ASQ representatives said, "From a quality improvement perspective, there are many things to like about this legislation," citing its call for the study of voting systems by independent experts, training of election workers, education of voters, establishment of a best practices database publicly accessible on the Internet, utilization of existing federal organizations such as the FEC and avoidance of mandates.

But ASQ said the proposed legislation did not address mechanisms by which appropriate authorities could assess whether provisions of the legislation are being carried out and noted a synthesis of approaches such as the ISO 9000 standards, Baldrige performance excellence criteria and Six Sigma methodology could provide opportunities to accomplish these objectives.

NIST Forms Team To Tackle Inspection Software Problems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has joined manufacturers and information technology vendors in an effort to overcome software interface barriers for automated dimensional measurement.

The new group, known as the Metrology Interoperability Consortium, will be developing and testing interoperability standards for the hardware and software components used.

The consortium's three-year plan includes:

  • Cataloging gaps in current standards.
  • Evaluating current and developing standards for particular interfaces to determine which ones deserve support.
  • Identifying and assisting in harmonization of competing or overlapping standards.
  • Developing specifications for interfaces where no satisfactory nonproprietary standard exists.
  • Assembling consensus user requirements for standards developing organizations.
  • Developing and performing conformance and interoperability tests that incorporate the standards.

Membership in the consortium is open to users, vendors and third-party organizations. For information, contact Al Wavering at 300-975-3461 or albert.wavering@nist.gov.

Q-100 Stock Index Shows Long-Term Strength

The Quality Progress Q-100, a fictional index created to track companies that use quality tools and systems, reflects the uncertainty of the economy as has the rest of the market (see the figure).

But more importantly, over the long-term the index shows significant strength compared with the S&P 500. A $10,000 investment in the Q-100 on Sept. 30, 1998, would have been worth $13,240 on June 30, compared with $12,452 for the S&P. That's 25% more growth.

"The long-term success of the Q-100 shows us companies without real commitments to quality (as shown by cuts in quality department personnel) don't do as well as companies that are focused on their customers," explains Craig Robinson of Robinson Capital Management, a Minnesota money management firm that created the Q-100. Robinson is also chair of the Minnesota Council for Quality.

Shorter term, the Q-100 didn't fare as well, rising 5.06% compared with 5.85% for the S&P. A $10,000 investment in the Q-100 this March 31, 2001, would be worth $10,506 while an investment in the S&P would be worth $10,585.

The two indexes are almost even for an investment made on Dec. 31, 2000. Year to date, the Q-100 was at -6.73% or $9,327, and the S&P was at-6.70% or $9,330.

"Although the Q-100 hasn't beaten the S&P either during the most recent quarter or year to date, there is clear outperformance since its inception," Robinson concludes.

European Software Quality Conference Slated June 2002

The Seventh European Conference on Software Quality will be held June 9-12, 2002, in Helsinki, Finland.

The deadline for submission of original papers and experience papers is Nov. 15, while tutorials, panels, workshop proposals, posters and project descriptions supporting the main themes are due Dec. 31. Notification of acceptance will be on Feb. 7, 2002, with final papers due March 15.

The themes of the conference are the production of attractive, reliable software at Internet speed and the production of software with a dynamic partnership network.

Initiated by the European Organization for Quality-Software Group, the conference will be organized by the Center for Excellence Finland, the Finnish society for quality. Petri Lehtipuu, managing director, says U.S. participants are being invited in part to realize the new World Partnering Program with ASQ.

For more detailed information, visit www.qualityconnection.org.

6 Toyota Vehicles Win New Owner Total Quality Report

Toyota came out the big winner in Strategic Vision's 2001 Total Quality Report (TQI), with six vehicles (three Toyota and three Lexus models) leading their segments.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego based research firm, has calculated the index since 1996 and says the TQI measures satisfaction as consumers define it--the whole experience of buying, owning and driving a new vehicle--rather than by rating features.

The 31,000 buyers rated the following tops in their segments:

  • Small car--Volkswagen Golf.
  • Compact car--Chrysler PT Cruiser.
  • Mid-size car--Volkswagen Passat and Infiniti G20.
  • Larger car--Chrysler LHS.
  • Small specialty (under $30,000)--Volkswagen New Beetle.
  • Mid-specialty--Honda Accord Coupe.
  • Near-luxury car--BMW 3-series and Lexus IS 300.
  • Luxury car--Lexus LS 430.
  • Convertible (under $30,000)--Toyota MR2 Spyder.
  • Minivan--Chrysler Town & Country.
  • Small SUV--Hyundai Santa Fe.
  • Medium SUV--Land Rover Discovery II.
  • Large SUV--Toyota Sequoia.
  • Luxury SUV--Lexus RX 300.
  • Compact pickup--Dodge Dakota.
  • Full-size pickup--Toyota Tundra.

HMO To Reward Doctors for Providing Quality Care

In a switch from the usual HMO practice of rewarding doctors for keeping medical costs down, Blue Cross of California, one of the nation's largest medical insurers, announced in July it would pay bonuses to doctors based on patient satisfaction and other quality standards. The HMO will also stop paying extra to physicians with the best cost cutting records.

This shift followed a similar move by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Boston in June. Several other managed care companies are already offering rewards for both cutting costs and providing quality care.

The New York Times reported many large California doctor groups would be eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses if they scored well on surveys of member satisfaction. The Times also said the new system will reward preventive health measures by doctors.

New Committee To Close Gaps In Tech Standards For E-Business

The National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) has announced the formation of Technical Committee V3 to close gaps in technical standards for e-commerce.

"We will codify how e-business should work so that it is truly open, usable by everyone, effective and efficient," says John L. Hill, Sun Microsystems' standards manager and convener of the committee.

In its initial meetings, V3 formally identified software safety, fault tolerant process and application reliability as key areas in which existing technical standards do not meet demands of e-business.

V3 expects to assist in the expansion of e-commerce for all types of transactions, including freight movement, traffic movement, entertainment, financial instruments, healthcare management, distribution and manufacturing.

In addition to Sun, committee members include representatives from government agencies, the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals and Share, an association providing focused education and networking for IBM users and a forum to influence the IT industry.

While there is an annual fee of $800 to establish voting membership on NCITS technical committees, NCITS recently established the formal category of advisor to give nonvoting experts access to all documents and the ability to hold committee leadership roles.

To establish voting membership or request advisory status, contact Monica Vago, NCITS manager of standards systems and services, at 202-626-5739.

World Standards Day will be held Oct. 10. The U.S. celebration, co-chaired by the American National Standards Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will be held at the Women's Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. For tickets or information, call 212-642-4948.

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Six Sigma Consultants in Albuquerque says it helped Tenneco Automotive Inc. achieve $2 million in savings in the first six months of implementation of Six Sigma methodology. It estimates Tenneco will save $20 million in 2001 as a result of Six Sigma improvements. Tenneco is a designer, manufacturer and distributor of ride control and emission control products and systems for the automotive original equipment and replacement markets.

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a Web site for kids only at www.nist.gov/kids. It lets fourth through eighth graders learn about measurements, science and technology. There is also a brochure featuring many of the same activities found on the Web site. For copies, e-mail (include a mailing address) inquiries@nist.gov or call 301-975-6478.

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National Customer Service Week is being held Oct. 1-5.

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When the Precast/Predistressed Concrete Institute holds its annual convention and exhibition Oct. 21-24 in Reno, NV, the initial focus will be on quality and Six Sigma. The keynote speaker at the opening session will be Frank Tedesco, senior vice president of the Juran Institute, who will give a presentation on Six Sigma.

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Prentice Hall Higher Education, a division of Pearson Education, and SolidWorks Corp. say Prentice Hall will include a free SolidWorks 3-D computer aided design software kit with each first-year engineering textbook sold in the United States and Canada this fall.


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